Yes, it does require a subscription, just like satellite television services (unless you’re a pirate). It’s pretty impossible to get around subscribing to something, though on the west coast there are underground subnets that work in somewhat of the same manner as an ISP.
Another cheaper and faster option if you’re in a rural area might be a WISP, or Wireless ISP. These services broadcast subscription-based wifi out of large antennas usually attached to grain silos and the like. Check and see if there’s some in your area.